“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Excerpt from “The Velveteen Rabbit” By Margery Williams
[You can read the full story here in this digital library as part of the Build-a-Book initiative celebrating women writers.]
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learnt to love myself more easily, even the shabbier, stiffer bits. My hair may not be rubbed off, but it’s definitely changing colour. My eyes still sparkle but they get tired more easily and my laughter lines are deepening, and yet as I’m aging I’ve found myself becoming more accepting of myself. I’m feeling Real. I’m becoming Real through loving myself.